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Penal Law Code for the Kingdom of Bavaria (1813)

This code aimed both to ensure the legal-institutional integration of the newly expanded Bavarian state and to reformulate criminal law in the spirit of Enlightenment liberalism. It was principally the work of jurist P.J. Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach (1775-1833). The penal law code abolished many of the old regime’s capital crimes and methods of capital punishment, replacing the latter with incarceration sentences that applied equally (with some exceptions for the upper classes) among all citizens. Yet, as this excerpt shows, severe corporal punishment persisted. The code showed innovation in regulating crimes committed by state servants in office, but shrank from introducing public and oral courtroom proceedings heard by citizen juries, a step taken by the French revolutionaries and their agents in the annexed Rhineland and the satellite German Kingdom of Westphalia.

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We Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria by the Grace of God.

We have deemed it, since the accession of Our government, one of Our highest governing concerns to advance the legislation of the realm toward appropriate agreement with the progress of the nation and the altered conditions of these times, and to unite the different parts of Our Kingdom under a common legislation. In particular, the great variety of penal laws existing to date has drawn our concern toward this branch of legislation, prompting Us to have several proposals and drafts put before Us for ten years. In the process of this, We did not fail to hear the public voice in addition to Our state authorities.

After subjecting the draft selected as a basis for the general penal code to the most diligent examination, first by a separate legislative commission comprised of reliable men of the law from all parts of the kingdom, then by the privy councilors’ sections of the judiciary, finally having it presented in the assembled Privy Council with Ourselves and the Crown Prince present, We have, in accordance with the constitution of Our realm, Title I. Paragraph I. and Title V. Paragraph 7, and following the appraisal by Our Privy Councilor, resolved to sanction by Our royal hand the first and second part of the general penal code, ordering its immediate promulgation. [ . . . ]

First Book. General legal provisions concerning crimes and offences.

First Chapter. Of illegal acts and their punishment in general.

Art. 1. Anyone responsible for an illegal act or negligence, for which a law threatens certain retaliation will be subjected to that legal retaliation as his penalty. And just as punishment suffered does not cancel or reduce compensation, compensation rendered cancels or reduces the deserved penalty neither. [ . . . ]

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